SEP 08th 2014

Jaguar strides boldly in to 3‑series territory with new XE

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So to London and Earls Court, scene of fourteen Jaguar world debuts in the last 80 years. Which may or may not include this one (they didn’t tell us!); the glitzy reveal of Jaguar’s new XE sports saloon.

The dress code said ‘London cool’, whatever that meant. I checked my shoes for Sussex sheep droppings before boarding the train, and hoped to pass muster.

Any fears the party-focused invitation implied an evening of style over substance were quickly allayed. On arrival the ranks of attendant media were shepherded into a pre-launch (happily post lunch!) technical briefing that revealed impressive depth to the new Jaguar’s CV.

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Well, I am impressed. It’s hard to think customers won’t be too, because as well as important features like a 99gms/C02 per kilometer rating for the tax-breaker special, the new Jag offers genuinely advanced aluminium architecture and construction, and an array of technological features encompassing safety, practicality and driving pleasure that that could make the £27k starting prices look positively bargainous.

What the Jaguar will deliver at various price-points is beyond the scope of this article (hey, it’s a party, and GRR needs to get the hang of this ‘London cool’ thing…), but the kitbag is extensive.

Let’s start with the construction. 70 percent extra strong alloy sheet metal (only the doors and boot are steel) mean panels can be 1.1mm thick instead of 1.5mm. Weight saving; 30 percent.

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Aerodynamics next: A flat underfloor, rear diffuser, carefully managed airflow across the rotating wheels, rear deck adding downforce and – on some models – flaps that close off the radiator air intakes when not needed. Result? The slipperiest Jaguar ever produced with a Cd of 0.26.

 

Suspension features double wishbones at the front, and an integral link set-up at the rear of a type usually found on larger more expensive machines. Passive and electronically adaptive damper options. The upshot? The best riding and handling car in its class, Jaguar proudly professes.

As for performance, this ‘lightest and stiffest’ Jaguar will apparently return up to 75mpg if buyers opt for the 2.0litre ‘Ingenium’ diesel motor, doubtless aided by that impressive drag coefficient, whilst those who crave more traffic light stampeding ability can always select the ‘XE S’ model with its supercharged V6, which brings with it 0-60 in 4.9 seconds and the familiar electronically-limited top speed of 155mph.

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Drivers will also benefit from Jaguar’s first electric power-steering system. It’s been a long time coming perhaps, but it opens the door to all kinds of clever supplementary benefits being deployed in the new XE. Lane-keeping assist, and parking assist just don’t cut the mustard any more – you need parallel and bay parking, and park exit assist to boot. And if you don’t, you’re getting it anway!

Jaguar’s latest Head-Up Display tech is fired by lasers, putting ‘old school’ LCD systems on the scrap heap. It means the Autonomous Braking System (standard on all models thanks to the XEs stereo camera system up front) can flash warnings in front of your face, as well as showing more prosaic info about speed limits and nav instructions.

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Talking of nav, there’s an entirely new touchscreen system with a new information architecture that carries over nothing from previous Jaguar systems. (Hooray!)

In fact the infotainment/control systems are so clever you can download car-optimised versions of various ostensibly useful business, diary and music apps and extend your mobile device (and thus your personality) onto the dashboard. It’s where ‘bespoke’ is headed folks.

There’s All Surface Progress Control, a derivative of Land Rover’s Terrain Response System that gives you the chance to set speed (up to 30kmh) and just steer while your XE descends or climbs icy gradients on normal road tyres that would have your average (German!) rear-drive sports saloon spinning its wheels in frustration.

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Oh, and engines? There’s that 2.0 litre diesel that sounds terribly clever with its low internal friction, computer controlled coolant and oil circulation pumps, variable exhaust cam timing and variable turbo geometry, but we’ll take the supercharged 3.0 V6 out of the F-Type please…

Which rather breathless list leaves pretty much just the way the new XE looks to consider. Pretty, isn’t it?

We can’t wait to get our hands on one. Jaguar bullishly promises class-leading dynamics, refinement and driving pleasure – and these guys know of what they speak.

It’s not the first Jaguar we’ve seen billed as ‘the most important Jaguar ever launched’ but the signs are it could easily be the best.

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